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An aria, in English, from Handel's Xerxes was followed by Jerome Kern's All the things you are and William Bolcom's Toothbrush time. These two latter helped identify two of the godmothers to this recital. Kenny's account of the Kern reminded me very much of Elly Ameling's fine 'crossover' album, Sentimental me, a rare example of a classical artist making an artistic success in this genre. Kenny and Ameling's approaches to the material have much in common.

William Bolcom's wife is, of course, the mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, who has made a fine career singing this repertoire and for me, is the epitome of how a classically trained artist should approach the genre of the Broadway song.

Sadly, Kenny's account of Toothbrush Time was one of the less successful numbers in the show. She and Burnside have the measure of the song's bluesy background, but somehow Kenny's diction was just not pointed enough. The performance is one which, I think, will shake down as this recital is performed more (there are plans to take it on tour).

Frank Bridge's setting of Matthew Arnold's Come to me in my dreams was simply lovely; it was a fine example of the recital including lesser known classical items rather than simply recycling the standard pops. The Bridge was followed by 'Le Delaissado' from Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne and Britten's arrangement of O Waly Waly, a nice pairing indeed.

The first half completed with 'Could I leave you?' from Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Slightly slower than I am used to, and without the slightly curdled edge to the tone that an actor brings to this song, Kenny and Burnside's performance was a re-establishment of Sondheim's fine musical values. Kenny did not manage to eclipse memories of David Kernan and Diana Rigg in this number, but she did pretty well.

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Copyright © 8 May 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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